Ugandan security forces’ crackdown on opposition members resisting the planned amendment of the constitutional presidential age limit has attracted condemnation from United States embassy in Kampala.
Earlier, Ambassador Deborah Malac said strong democracies allow debate, emphasizing that government “must ensure citizens and legislators are free to express opposing views without fear of intimidation.”
Information Minister Frank Tumwebaze responded to the Ambassador, saying, “Just as those with opposing views should be free to express themselves, so should be the case for the proponents of a certain view.”
However, police on Wednesday sealed off and searched premises of civil society organisations GLISS and Action Aid on suspicion of channeling funds to opposition groups.
Police went ahead to arrest key opposition activists including Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago; barricades roads to government institutions and strengthened military deployment in Kampala city.
In the wake of these developments, the embassy issued a statement, saying, “The United States is deeply concerned that recent arrests and raids stifle the Ugandan people’s right to free expression and tarnish Uganda’s global image.”
The statement added: “We are disturbed by reports of raids on NGOs. Infringements on protected rights under Uganda’s Constitution will impede the country’s development.”
The U.S. government’s next course of action remains unclear as it funds several civil society organisations opposed to the constitutional amendment.
“We call on the Government of Uganda to guarantee all its citizens freedom of speech, expression, and assembly, without fear of intimidation,” said the U.S. Mission in Kampala.